The Howling Cliffs - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish
Ka'imi's ears rose rigid. She gave a short whine. The howling of dogs came from a distance. It seemed to fill the valley. It was the howls of two dogs. No wonder the locals wanted to ban noisy dogs from the trail. Ka'imi pulled hard on the leash. Sara picked up the pace. Ka'imi seemed onto something. A winding ascent later, they crested the plateau. The round hewn rocky trail on the plateau was well-worn, wide and rimmed a canyon. Trail did not get too close to the edge, which was marked by low brushes and other grown. Sporadically the trail simply dropped off sharply into the valley. Foot-tall signs warned hikers to stay away from these areas. The foliage, clouds and mountain views would be a photographer's heaven, easily distracting the unwary close to the precipice. Ka'imi was very agitated. She paced, pulling on the leash, turned and paced and turned back and paced. She sat facing the canyon. Her head went back and her neck stretched. She howled mournfully and kept howling. She was evidently sensing what other dogs did.
Sara Mason has just bought a home in Hawaii where she plans to make an R and R camp for members of her team who search for MIA vets whose bodies have never been recovered and returned to the states. Her soul mate Huxley Keane is in search for his brother's remains along with her best friend Esmerelda Talbot who is searching for her daughter's remains. Both were taken prisoner, along with others, by the Viet Cong and their bodies had never been recovered. The work was stressful and a resting place in Hawaii would be perfect for all involved in the search.
Sara also works missing cold cases. After meeting her new next door neighbor Birdie, Sara learns that the neighbor on the other side of her had a sister who turned up missing ten years earlier. The child was in the watch of her brother Maleko when she simply disappeared. The girl had Down syndrome and it apparently hurt the boy more than anyone realized. Sara also learned, through Birdie, that there was a section of the mountain that they called The Howling Cliffs. When hikers traveled with their dogs along this area the dogs stop and howl into the wind. Sara found this to be true after taking Birdie's dog Ka'imi along with her on a hike to the area. The howling along with the anger shown by Maleko when she tried to communicate with him, have both peaked her curiosity enough to solve the two mysteries. But along with answers come attempts on her life. Someone doesn't want her to find the answers to either mystery.
Author Mary Deal has a way of writing mysteries that will keep you turning just one more page to see what happens next. I found myself in this position way up into the night as I had to read just a little more. After finishing the book, I also found that I had learned a lot about the Hawaiian Islands as well as the Viet Nam War. This was an enjoyable book filled with action, mystery and history. I loved it.